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2019-20 Three B’s - Marvin Williams

It was a short tenure for the midseason buyout arrival

Miami Heat v Milwaukee Bucks - Game Five Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Welcome to the Brew Hoop’s entirely subjective and emotionally-driven 2019-20 Milwaukee Bucks season player evaluations! Similar to last year’s series, we’ll take a look at each current Buck and ask three questions: what do they do that helps (Boon), what do they do that hurts (Bane), and whether they ought to be on this team (Belonging).

Our next entry hones in on Marvin Williams, the longtime Charlotte Hornet and Atlanta Hawk who scooted to Milwaukee midseason after a buyout. It was a relative steal given the Bucks only had to sacrifice Dragan Bender’s roster spot in return for a player who made their core playoff rotation. Williams provided more athleticism as a backup big, fit well enough with Giannis Antetokounmpo at center, and generally had the trust of Bud. His offensive game never quite came around in Milwaukee, but I’m sure the organization was a little saddened to see him announce his retirement after the Game 5 loss.

Marvin’s Boon: He’s Not Ersan

Okay, that’s selling the wily vet short, but it was the reason most fans were most excited about his arrival to the team. The idea of watching Ersan get spun around like a dusty top in the postseason wasn’t too appealing. Marvin offered a stout backup forward who was also serviceable enough as a defender to work with Giannis Antetokounmpo at center lineups. In the postseason in particular, he had to match up frequently with bigger players so Giannis could serve as a weakside roamer. His old-man athleticism provided a fitting counter for Budenholzer off the bench. He could guard up and down a few positions without too much fear of getting absolutely housed by savvy ball handlers or big time brutes.

Marvin’s Bane: Little Acclimation Time

Marvin played only 11 games with the Bucks before the COVID-19 pandemic break, meaning he had to restart that process again with the eight seeding games before the postseason. Given the Bucks didn’t even look like themselves after resuming play, it’s no surprise Marvin wasn’t quite able to find his rhythm within Bud’s offense. He looked passable actually as a roller and working within the paint; in fact, he converted at an 80% clip on his limited shots within 0-3 feet while in Milwaukee. Those opportunities were few and far between though. His primary role was as a spacer around the arc, and he just couldn’t find his shooting stroke, ending with just a 30.8% percentage in the regular season for the Bucks. That figure did tick up in the postseason though to 43.5%.

He posted a piddly 8.7 usage percentage with the Bucks, and that trepidation meant few teams had to respect much of his offensive game. When it mattered, Marvin certainly tried his best against Miami, but the athleticism of the Heat’s rangy forward was frequently too much for the former North Carolina Tar Heel. Presumably, he could’ve unlocked a more switchable defensive lineup with Giannis at center, but Bud opted to continue with the zone-drop scheme, much to the chagrin of many Bucks fans. Williams also looked like he certainly hadn’t grasped the nuances of the zone drop when forced to operate as a nominal center.

Does Marvin Belong?

Theoretically, the answer is yes, but given his decision to retire following Game 5, the answer in practice is no as of now. Maybe after an offseason he’d be interested in returning, but this seemed like the last gasp of a long career. Were he to reconsider, I’m sure the Bucks and Jon Horst would welcome him back given the likely departure of Ersan Ilyasova this offseason.